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Syrian Rebels, Backed by Turkey, Seize Control of Afrin

He said that many of the Kurdish troops had abandoned their guns. “The fighters left their weapons behind,” he said. “We found many on the ground and in the trash.”

“For the time being, we’re trying to deal with the land mines,” he said.

Mr. Ali vowed to continue the fight to his hometown, Manbij, where American forces are based and where they have been working alongside Kurdish Y.P.G. forces to defeat Islamic State militants in Syria.

Other rebel fighters posted photographs of their units, holding the opposition Syrian flag aloft, at the main intersections and before a statue on Afrin’s central square. Later, photographs showed that the rebels had toppled the statue of Kawa the Blacksmith, a character from Kurdish and Persian mythology who is celebrated on March 21, the time of the Kurdish New Year.

Discussions erupted on social media over why the Free Syrian Army had felled the statue. Some said that the fighters probably thought the statue represented the Kurdish leader of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which is designated a terrorist group and affiliated to the Kurdish militias in Syria.

Video also circulated on social media of residents of the city emptying the former stores of the Kurdish militias. One man carried a sack of grain away on his shoulder, and women rushed back and forth piling up food in the courtyard.

Source: NYT > World

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